Thursday, March 12, 2009

Soap Diaries, Chapter 2 - Mixing Day!

Today is the big day. I am making soap for the first time. I am very excited now that I finally have all my supplies. (Go back and read chapter 1 if you haven't to see how fun the supply hunt was!) I have read a ton of articles (including some time on the Barnes and Noble couches scouring books), watched a plethora of videos on many different websites and now I am ready!

I begin looking over my recipe and thinking about how this will be good for my daughter's skin. But, wait, what did I read about chamomile being good for eczema? It's supposed to have calming properties. Well, I do have some chamomile tea and I did read where instead of water you could add tea to the lye (or lye to the tea - safety first). Why don't I just do that? So, I made very strong chamomile tea.
While I wait for the tea to finish brewing, I get my mold ready, get all my ingredients together and then my mind begins to review what I have seen in the many videos I've watched. I saw an interesting segment on showing how to add goats milk into the soap. Well, goats milk is good for the skin! I should do that! Since I had some evaporated goats milk on hand I was set! All I had to do was use half the water(or tea in this case)with the lye and mix equal parts goats milk and the other half of the water to add later. This would make my lye solution stronger, but, hey, I can handle it!

When the tea was ready I weighed out half the amount of water, the full amount of lye, poured the lye into my pitcher and stirred. I then took the other half of the water and mixed it with an equal amount of goats milk. All ready to go. I know the lye heats up when mixed so I know I will have to wait for it to cool down. I popped in (yes, I was careful) my thermometer. 150 degrees! Sheesh. This will take forever. So I decide to measure my oils. I heat the oils somewhat to melt the coconut oil. Boy what a smell! That olive oil stinks. I hope it gets better.

Reviewing my recipe and everything I had learned in my mind I remember that the lye couldn't be hotter than the oils....or was it the other way around? Up the stairs I go to the computer to read. If you haven't found this website yet it is a wonderful resource! Millers Homemade Soap Pages. This has pages and pages of information regarding sources, recipes, how tos, trouble shooting, etc. (No, I did not have this resource before I went on the hunt for lye - see chapter 1). This is where I found the information. Okay, the oils can't be hotter than the lye. Good! Off downstairs to check my lye temp. 145 degrees. Sheesh! I go sit and watch tv for 10 minutes or so......check temp again. 140~ oh boy. Now, keep in mind it is recommended that the temp be between 100 or 110 degrees. This is going to take forever! I check my temp on the oils and they were about 110 so we were good there, but waiting on the lye. boy that olive oil stinks! Off to watch tv again...... well about an hour and a half later the lye is cool enough.
It is time to mix. I, once again don my gloves and safety glasses, grab my stick blender and get ready to pour the lye. (I had to slightly heat the oils again b/c they were too cool. Everything now is about 110 degrees.)

First I pour in the goats milk. Interesting combination oil and goats milk. All separate as you can image. No worries, I pour in the lye solution and begin mixing. Now this is beginning to be a weird orange color. Really weird orange. But, maybe it'll be good once it gets to trace.

I mix and stir, mix and stir (alternating running the stick blender on low and stirring with it). It takes about 15 minutes to get to trace (olive oil soaps are notoriously slow to trace - so I've been told). But, I finally got to trace. It is a thin trace, not what I have seen on the videos (I realized that AFTER when I re-watched the videos) but it'll do. Now, I'm looking for a pure soap so I didn't plan on adding any scent. I don't know how my daughter's skin will react so it's best just to leave it out. I do, however, add some dried chamomile tea to the mix, which adds pretty little specs in the soap. ~I wish I could add a scent, because this really is a little smelly!~ And, what's with the orange color ? Did the chamomile do that?

I pour the mixture into my molds which, since I'm not that concerned with appearance, just quality of soap, are plastic glad containers. ~Man, what an awful smell, though~. I keep going anyway and set them on a towel and then wrap them up in about four towels. They have to be kept warm in order to set up right.

A couple of hours later I go to peek at how they are doing I am so happy they are getting to a nice gel stage. Apparently the reaction is still going on and it heats all up again and liquefies somewhat jello like and then re-solidifies. "saponification" class, now everyone say it with me. Anyway, it needs to stay warm so I cover it up again.

Later I have to peek again because, hey, I'm nosy that way. Well, the tops are all wrinkly! Hmm, I've seen that before on the trouble shooting page of the miller website. So I cover it all back up and run upstairs again to read the website. "Too much insulation during gel phase". Oh boy! I run downstairs and take off the towels. I had thought, "if one towel is good, four must be better". Well no... but no major damage was done, I'm just wanting a quality soap. But, boy, what is with the smell??? and the weird orange color?

Now all the hard work is done, it's just time to let it set up for a couple of days, cut it and let it cure. I'll share tomorrow what comes out and, hopefully it at least smells tolerable!


Anji Gallanos said...

Looks like you did a great job. I've never made soap..looks like fun to try.

Denny1600 said...

Mia--I've only made 3 batches of soap so far (I love it!), but I've read that goat's milk can turn orange with the heat from the lye. Do some more computer research about goat's milk soaps and read what others do to try to keep it from turning orange. I don't think it hurts the soap other than the color is less desirable. As for the smell, I'm not so sure. What kind of olive oil did you use? Was it extra virgin? If so, that might be the smell. Keep after the soap making! I love how less drying it is on my skin. My mother says it's less "scummy" than store bought "soaps." Good luck!